|Michael Oren and the cover of his new book, "Ally."|
Credit: Anne Mandlebaum and Random House.
Obama’s money and Israel’s sovereignty, which mentions them all.
Obama’s money and Israel’s sovereignty
Friday, June 24th, 2016
This week, MK Michael Oren stood up to his boss in the Kulanu party, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, to the political Left, including hundreds of retired security brass, and to the IDF General Staff. The former ambassador to Washington urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to sign the multi-year security assistance deal that US President Barack Obama demands Israel accept.
The problem isn’t the money. By all accounts, Obama’s multi-year military assistance package is generous.
The problem is that in exchange for the expanded military aid, Obama is demanding that Israel surrender its diplomatic and military independence to the White House.
For more than 40 years, every US administration – including the Obama administration – that has sought to harm Israel in any way has hit up against an unmovable obstacle. Whether the White House wanted to enable the UN Security Council to pass an anti-Israel resolution, place an embargo on military exports or bureaucratically slow them down to force Israel to stand down during wartime; whether the White House wanted block expanded trade deals, crowd out Israel’s military industries, or sell game changing weapons systems to Israel’s enemies, the US Congress has always stopped it in its tracks.
Israel-haters in the US speak endlessly about the supposedly all powerful and malign “Israel lobby,” which controls US foreign affairs. But the simple truth is that it wouldn’t matter all that much if AIPAC were to shut down tomorrow. Even without AIPAC, Israel would enjoy the support of Congress.
It would continue to enjoy that support because the vast majority of Americans support Israel and expect their representatives in Congress to support Israel.
In other words, the “Israel lobby” is none other than the American people.
As Oren warned, Obama’s military assistance package would disenfranchise the American public when it comes to US policy toward Israel. The agreement bars Israel from asking that Congress augment the assistance that Obama has offered and bars Congress from acting. So if a future administration chooses to breach the agreement, or to suspend it, or if conditions change and Israel requires other assistance, Congress would be barred from stepping into the breach. Then there is the assistance agreement’s assault on Israel’s military independence.
Israel’s military industries are the primary guarantor of its independent capacity to fight and win wars.
Successive administrations have sought to restrict the activities of Israel’s military industries and have used the military assistance to achieve their goal.
Israeli critics of US assistance note that Israel’s military industries are the primary casualties of the aid.
Currently, the US allows Israel to use a mere 25 percent of its assistance at home. As a consequence, the main beneficiary of US military assistance to Israel are US defense contractors.
Critics of the US aid argue that if Israel stops receiving military assistance, far from harming the economy, the move would strengthen Israeli industry and expand economic growth. The thousands of jobs at US defense contractors that are created through US military assistance to Israel, will move to Israel, and go to Israelis.
Moreover, whereas Israel gives the US its technology for free as part of the security assistance package, if it stops accepting the assistance, it will be free to sell its technology to other partners such as India, which will eagerly partner with Israel in weapons development and production projects.
Strategically, canceling the US military aid package would massively expand Israel’s military independence of action.
On the other hand, the deal that Obama is now trying to coerce Netanyahu to sign will require Jerusalem to give up the 25 percent of the military assistance it is now allowed to spend at home. Oren noted that such a concession will cost thousands of Israelis their jobs.
But even worse, an Israeli agreement to spend all future US military assistance in the US would be tantamount to an Israeli agreement to concede its military independence to the White House for a fistful of dollars. Without the independent capacity to develop and produce defense systems, spare parts and munitions, Israel will be unable to take military action without White House approval.
Obama’s own record makes clear what Israel would be risking.... continued